Hartlepool United academy future up in the air as funding drop leaves £180,000 hole in budget

Josh Hawkes is one of the brightest talents to come out the Pools academy in recent years.
Josh Hawkes is one of the brightest talents to come out the Pools academy in recent years.

The future of Hartlepool United's academy remains up in the air with the club yet to work out concrete funding plans for next season.

Football League grants end this season and Pools will have a £180,000 hole in their budget when it comes to keeping their academy alive.

Raj Singh stepped in this campaign to support the academy financially but the plan has always been for that part of the club to become as close to self sustaining as possible.

Meetings are taking place on a weekly basis to work out a plan moving forward, but as yet, no model has been agreed upon.

Manager Craig Hignett, along with the club's top brass, are desperate to keep the academy, which has produced the likes of Josh Hawkes, Kenton Richardson, Aaron Cunningham and Ryan Catterick for the current first-team squad, as an integral part of the football club.

But two years outside of the Football League bubble is having an impact on the balance sheets at Pools and shrewd businessman Singh knows he has to cut cloth to suit.

Hignett admits he is desperate to keep the academy alive and kicking but he understand the reality of the situation.

"We don't get any funding from now on," he said.

"We are desperate to keep what we have got.

"We can't shell out the money because we haven't got it. If we go up, then that's a different story, but at the moment priority has to be putting together a team to get out of this league."

Hignett says a number of ideas are being explored ahead of the summer, but self sufficiency has to be high on the agenda at youth level.

"We have got to find a model that will self fund," he said.

"The worst case scenario has to be that it costs nothing, the best is that we get money to reinvest into it.

"We need to explore every option available. We are not sure which way we will go with it.

"It's all about money but we are desperate to keep the academy.

"Just look at the players in the first team - Aaron Cunningham, Josh Hawkes. There are loads of young lads, our bench has been filled with kids.

"When you look at all the teams in the top leagues and you see the amount of minutes they give to under-23s, we are near the top of that. We have got a lot of under-23s playing.

"It is a clear pathway to first team football."